Best of our wild blogs: 11 Nov 13

Exploring Sungei Buloh in a wheelchair
from wild shores of singapore

Skippers and Other Interesting Critters at Mandai
from Beauty of Fauna and Flora in Nature

Tue, 26 Nov 2013, 10.00am @ SR1: Neo Mei Lin on “Giant clams in Singapore: Past, Present, and Future” from The Biodiversity crew @ NUS

Will Haiyan's impact in the Philippines be worsened by deforestation? from by Rhett A. Butler

Native Apple Snail
from Monday Morgue

Read more!

Work to alleviate flooding at Chai Chee Rd completed

Evelyn Lam Channel NewsAsia 10 Nov 13;

SINGAPORE: Road-raising works at Chai Chee to help alleviate flooding in the area were completed on Sunday.

Works began during the weekend at the junction of New Upper Changi Road and Chai Chee Road, to prevent water from collecting on the lower points of the road.

Flooding has been a frequent problem there. In the past nine days, the area had flooded four times.

Separately, shop tenants nearby said they also have to deal with leaking roofs whenever it rains, causing business to worsen by 30 per cent.

At a shoe shop, the leakage is especially bad after the ceiling collapsed a few years ago due to water accumulation.

At a coffeeshop, the manager said that while the leakage is not serious, customers are unable to use the seats which get wet.

The affected tenants have already expressed their concern to the authorities.

- CNA/xq

Read more!

Malaysia: Minister - Let’s join hands to curb poaching

The Star 10 Nov 13;

KUALA LUMPUR: There needs to be a more coordinated approach towards curbing wildlife crime, including tiger poaching, said Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin.

He said that it was not enough just to rely on the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (Perhilitan) and the Anti-Smuggling Unit, which he said were understaffed, given the number of large areas to cover.

“It needs a coordinated approach from all agencies, including the police, Customs and army. Poachers have an extensive and coordinated network, including those who come from overseas to kill our tigers and trade their parts,” he said at the May­bank Wildlife Tiger Run yesterday.

Khairy also expressed disappointment at the light sentence meted out in February to wildlife trader Mohd Nor Shahrizam Nasir, who was caught with eight tiger skins, 22 whole tiger bones and nine African elephant tusks.

The Alor Setar Sessions Court sentenced him to a total of 60 months jail – 24 months each for possession of tiger skins and bones, and 12 months for the tusks.

However, the sentences will run concurrently, so he will spend only two years in jail.

“This was one of the biggest hauls in this part of the world and that was the only sentence that he got.

“This is something we will be look­ing at in totality when we approach this issue,” he said, referring to the punitive aspect of wildlife enforcement.

Khairy also noted that the tiger stripes were “very integral” to the Malaysian sporting spirit, adding that he would hate to see Malaysian players just wearing the jersey while the tigers themselves were becoming fast extinct.

“We shouldn’t just be proud of our uniforms and symbols. We need to realise that in real life, the number of tigers are decreasing,” he said.

Khairy said his ministry would continue working together with relevant NGOs as he planned to launch a new tiger-striped national jersey design next year.

“I hope that with the launch of the new jersey, we will be able to involve many youths in the cause.”

Read more!

Malaysia: 20 national parks for Sarawak

Esther Landau New Straits Times 11 Nov 13;

PRESERVING LEGACY: State govt will set aside 1m hectares to conserve flora and fauna

KUCHING: THE Sarawak government has proposed to set up 20 national parks to bring a balance to the state's environment, said Minister in the Chief Minister's Office Tan Sri Adenan Satem.

He said the state government would set aside one million hectares of land for the purpose.
"Historically, our forests have contributed to mankind.

"We want to preserve that legacy," Adenan said after opening the Second International Conference on Alfred Russel Wallace here recently.

Wallace was a renowned British naturalist who had made a great many discoveries in the Borneo jungles.

He is best known for conceiving the theory of evolution through natural selection.

His paper on the subject was jointly published with some of Charles Darwin's writings in 1858.
This prompted Darwin to publish his own ideas in his book, On the Origin of Species.

"These parks will be classified as protected areas and will be the sanctuary for Borneo's flora and fauna in the state," said Adenan.

Wallace's work in the jungles of Borneo began from Santubong coast and most of his work became the foundation of the Sarawak Museum.

The museum also planned to have a section on Wallace's work with the help of the Brooke Heritage Trust and London Natural History Museums.

Adenan said those participants in the programme shared common interests in promoting academic discourse and research on the state.

"The conference also aims to provide a platform for Wallace's enthusiasts from Malaysia and other countries."

Adenan said Sarawak was committed to conserving the state's biodiversity and would continue to play its role by providing research facilities and grants to interested institutions.

Read more!

Indonesia: Forest Misuse Costs Indonesia $7 Billion in Revenue, Report Says

Berni Moestafa Bloomberg 11 Nov 13;

Illegal logging and mismanagement of Indonesia’s forestry industry may have prevented more than $7 billion flowing to state coffers from 2007 to 2011, costing the government more than its health budget, Human Rights Watch said.

In contrast, the Indonesian government’s 2011 revenue from timber royalties and reforestation fees was $300 million, said Emily Harwell, the lead author of a report released by Human Rights Watch.

“This is a very conservative estimate,” Harwell, a partner at Natural Capital Advisors LLC, said at a briefing in Jakarta on Nov. 8 of lost revenue. “The calculation doesn’t include any wood that’s smuggled.”

The report indicates weak governance is chipping away at revenues in the world’s fourth-most populous nation, as budget and current-account deficits this year hurt the rupiah. In 2011, revenue missed from forestry totaled more than $2 billion, exceeding the government’s health spending for that year, New York-based Human Rights Watch said in the report.

The report calculated how much wood was used by industries such as pulp, furniture and saw mills, and compared it with the available legal supply of timber, Harwell said. The supply of legal timber was “considerably smaller than what you need to produce that amount of products,” Harwell said, adding that from the missing supply she was able to calculate the lost fees.

Indonesia ranked 118 among 176 countries on Transparency International’s 2012 corruption perceptions index, undermining the investment appeal of Southeast Asia’s largest economy. Facing slowing growth, the government is trying to narrow budget and trade gaps by curbing state spending and easing restrictions on investment in some industries.

Most Corrupt

Out of 20 central government institutions, the Ministry of Forestry was the only one scoring below the minimum standard for integrity in providing public services, according to a 2012 survey by the Corruption Eradication Commission, or KPK. Johan Budi, a spokesman at the anti-graft agency, couldn’t be reached when called on his mobile phone, and two calls to his office weren’t answered.

“We do have an illegal logging problem,” Sumarto Suharno, a spokesman at the Ministry of Forestry, said by telephone on Nov. 8. “The case with the policeman in Papua is being investigated and we’re looking whether anyone in the forestry ministry is involved.”

A Papua-based policeman allegedly made almost $1 million in transfers to senior police officials to protect illegal logging and fuel smuggling businesses, an investigation by a Jakarta-based non-government organization Indonesia Police Watch found. The policeman has been named a suspect, according to a statement on the website of the Attorney General’s office. The police force is perceived as the most corrupt institution in Indonesia, according to Transparency International.

Plantation Pressure

State losses from illegal logging have narrowed to less than 1 trillion rupiah ($87.6 million) a year, from about 30.7 trillion rupiah in 2002, because of certification requirements for timber sold, Suharno said. He declined to comment on the Human Rights Watch report, saying he has yet to see it.

Expansion of oil palm and pulp plantations to support economic growth is occurring in existing natural forests and on land claimed by local communities, Human Rights Watch said. Indonesia has become the world’s largest producer of palm oil, used to make cooking oil, biscuits and other processed foods.

Palm oil output may increase to 26.7 million tons to 27 million tons this year from 25.7 million tons in 2012, according to Indonesia’s Palm Oil Board. The paper industry plans to nearly double its current mill capacity by 2015, Human Rights Watch said, citing a report by the Center for International Forestry Research.

Forest Dependence

“The impacts of this demand-led plantation expansion on communities and forests are profound and long lasting,” Human Rights Watch said, pointing to significant impact on local economies, subsistence patterns and forest biodiversity.

In 2010 more than 9,000 villages were located within state forests, with 71 percent depending on them for their livelihood, it said, citing government statistics. Twelve percent of people in Indonesia live in poverty, according to data compiled by the World Bank.

Human Rights Watch called for greater assessment of government and corporate compliance with laws protecting local land rights and compensation agreements. Forest and plantation businesses, including their supply chains, should engage with local non-government organizations to build transparent grievance procedures, it said in the report.

Read more!

Indonesia: APP Conservation Policy a Lost Cause, Environmental Organization Says

ID/Alina Musta’idah Jakarta Globe 11 Nov 13;

Paper company Asia Pulp and Paper’s conservation policy, which it issued in February this year, remains far from effective in protecting the forested habitat for Sumatran tigers, one of the world’s most endangered animal, says an environmental group in a report.

“Our report shows that the Forest Conservation Policy [FCP] by Asia Pulp and Paper [APP] is not designed to save the Sumatran tiger habitat, one of the animals that are nearing extinction,” said Vanda Mutia Dewi, the national program coordinator for Greenomics Indonesia.

In its report titled “From Zero to Zero: APP’s Zero Deforestation Policy Saves Zero Forested Sumatran Tiger Habitat,” the organization mapped out a spatial analysis based on legal documents approved by the Forestry Ministry.

Despite having laid out a good policy for the protection of endangered animals on paper, the report said APP had scrapped its chances of securing Sumatran tigers’ habitat when it carried out a large-scale land clearing in the run-up to its Forest Conservation Policy announcement.

The Indonesian government requires pulpwood companies to set aside at least 10 percent of their concessions for protection areas, which include areas used to protect wildlife habitat.

However, in clearing areas prior to issuing its new conservation policy, the report said APP had included stretches of the forest that were supposedly protected for Sumatran tigers.

The report mentioned Tri Pupajaya (TPJ), a supplier for APP operating in South Sumatra, among other APP partners and subsidiaries, as having cleared nearly 100 percent of the forested Sumatran tiger habitat within its concession, which extends up to 21,995 hectares.

“The results of the overall of TPJ’s 2012 operations plan map and the satellite image as of May 19, 2013, show that TPJ has only left a very small area of forested Sumatran tiger habitat that it did not manage to clear,” the organization said in its report.

“It is highly inappropriate for this to be used by APP when trumpeting its commitment to the protection of Sumatran tiger habitat through its zero deforestation policy,” it added.

Greenomics said the company’s Zero Deforestation Program was not a substantive policy, given the small remaining area of Sumatran tiger habitat left to be saved using its policy.

Read more!